Tinubu: To Pee or Not to Pee? Kyari: To Deal or Not to Deal?
By Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
This has been a spectacularly revealing week for Nigeria. But then, which week hasn’t? Last week, it was the Oxlade leak, whose reception was a stark contrast to the Tiwa Savage one that caused the singer to lose some endorsement and get called a ho. This raises questions, of course, about gender perceptions and sexuality, something that also became clear, yet again, in the unfolding drama in Kannywood last week over the exploitation of some actors, who are sometimes paid kudin garau-garau or at other times asked to pay to be featured in certain films. This is not discounting the puritanical lens with which actors who happen to be women are viewed—and insulted—for conducts their male colleagues are often hailed for or dismissed with a nonchalant slap on the wrist. Perhaps someday we will talk about the sheer duplicity of our performative piety. Today is not that day. At least not in regard to those issues.
Today though, I am more interested in the two viral videos that have, more than others, dominated conversations this week. One is of a certain elderly gentleman, who goes by the name Bola Tinubu, purportedly peeing himself at an official function ironically meant to advance his aspiration to be president of Nigeria.
The other was the concluding part of ex-hero, super cop turned “bad cop” Abba Kyari’s tumble from grace. I swear, Kyari’s story unravels like a badly scripted Nollywood movie—one of those in which the hero turns his back against God or a betrayed love interest—only to suffer a karmic public unravelling, one that an Alaba Market producer would knock into a movie under a week, from scripting to wheelbarrow premiere, with a title like: “Sunset for Kyari The Bad Policeman, Part 1”
After Part 1, in which Kyari, probably the most decorated officer in the Nigerian Police, was unveiled as a willful henchman to international scam artist, Ramon Azeez Hushpuppi, and was declared wanted by the FBI, got suspended by his employers, the police, who commenced an “investigation” since August 2021, as if it were the search for the Holy Grail.
Apparently, Mr Kyari disliked being idle. He got bored of sitting at home, twiddling his toes so he went and got himself another line of work (read crime, if you like). He started, among other things, “illicit drug trafficking involving a perpetual transnational drug cartel,” his employers, the police, said when announcing his arrest.
When the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA (quite a mouthful that), under the leadership of Mohammed Marwa declared Kyari wanted for drug trafficking, it certainly came out of left field. When they released video evidence (which, as we have learned in this country may not amount to much, since the president himself excused corruption allegations and the video evidence against Kano’s Governor Abdullahi Ganduje with those infamous, “we don’t know what technology was used,”) does not mean a conviction for a crime. But in the court of public opinion, Kyari is dead to many Nigerians, including those who praised his valiance in the past, resisted calls for his extradition to the US and sought to excuse his henchman role for Hushpuppi.
That FBI allegation and its aftermath showed up Kyari. There was little intelligence from the then head of the Police Intelligence Response Team. His prevarications on Facebook, where he made a series of embarrassing posts to defend himself and excuse his actions were puerile and without substance. The most embarrassing being the one in which he tried to use the Borno State governor to launder his image by false misrepresentation. The Borno State government had to release a statement disassociating itself from the man and the claim he made in the post and pointedly demanded he take the post down. And now, like a doomed hero cursed by the gods, Kyari mindlessly trundled into a sting operation to peddle drugs like a common bagman. Finally, he got himself arrested—not for collecting money to arrest, detain and torture a suspect on behalf of a known Yahoo Boy, but for selling drugs.
In reality that arrest should have come sooner, as soon as last August. But the police waited for their most celebrated cop to shit himself in the market square, again, waited until he was declared wanted by another agency before reigning in their loose canon. Damage done.
Speaking of shitting oneself, former Lagos governor, Tinubu, might have done something similar or close. Well, technically, Tinubu probably only relieved himself in public, in the palace of the Awujale of Ijebu Kingdom, and in the presence of Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, his courtiers and Tinubu’s army of praise-singing supporters.
There is nothing funny about a man his age (69 or 79, depending on what sources you believe) losing control of his bowel, if that was what happened. His support group with the very unimaginative name, Support Group Management Council, naturally claimed the video was photoshopped and that patch of damp on his babanriga that might have dampened his presidential drive was edited onto the clip. Nothing surprising there. What is surprising is that no official spokesperson for Tinubu has denied that this happened and that the presidential aspirant is not suffering from urinary incontinence, as is being alleged. Whatever the case, one of two things needs to be addressed properly—Tinubu’s health or the rumours of Tinubu’s health.
A person’s health is a personal issue as long as that person’s health does not impede the interest of his country or the well being of its system and people. We all saw how President Yar’adua’s health crisis led to a dirty power tussle in the villa, put Nigeria in a state of uncertainty as to who was in charge of the country and created a lot of tension. President Buhari has been away from the country for over 300 days at least, to attend to his health, mostly in London. Anyone’s health could fail at any point in time but a person running for president should not already be showing signs of what could potentially be a serious ailment that could detract from his governance if he were to become president.
Understandably, Tinubu is keen to push on and run for president. The time seems right. The presidency might be rotating south, his party, one which he helped form and in which he has great power is in charge of the government and the opposition PDP is a scattered force. If Tinubu clears the initial hurdles within his party, it is likely he would be coasting to the presidency. It is tempting.
But should any man’s ambition, no matter how long it has been incubating, be pursued at the risk of stagnating his country?
Tinubu, like the Nigeria Police, especially with regard to Kyari, should not wait until all semblance of dignity is lost, to dedicate time to address their problems. Nigeria has suffered a lot. And the mission to salvage it, which must begin in earnest, should not come secondary to a powerful individual’s aspiration. Sometimes, if you love something —a person, a thing, a country—enough, you will know when to let it soar. A sick president clinging to the scrawny neck of a long-abused nation seeking to crawl, toddle and perhaps someday fly, is neither love nor patriotism. It is sabotage.
I wish Tinubu good health, and a long life. I hope whatever he decides, he puts the interest of the country first. As for Mr Kyari, well…he has, as the British would say, copped it already.
For the rest of us, may we not soil our clothes in the village square at the dawn of our finest hour.